Chapter 3 – The Unfaithful Steward


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A Desire So Strong

  Chapter 3 – The Unfaithful Steward


  Infidelity goes further than you cheating with
        someone else, further than you being
        cautious and of course protecting yourself.
Infidelity like a thief at night takes away another’s
        joy, leaving that person empty of hope and so
        much more.
Infidelity, like the pain of death, leaves an awful
        sting and shows a mental picture that is very
It robs the mind of peace and tears to shreds the heart.
        It breaks the bonds of faith and trust and blows a
        world apart.
Infidelity cripples the structure that took precious time
        to build and brings about confusion in the emotions
        a loved one feels.
The loved one sometimes loses sight of his or her
        self-worth and at times longs to return to the dust
        of the earth.
The loved one will question appearance, conversations,
        and deeds: beginning to down him or herself so much that
        it would cause your heart to bleed.
They’ll begin to shy away from people thinking everyone
        else knew, thinking that behind their backs people laughed
        saying, “YOU BIG OLD FOOL, YOU!”
The loved one will even begin to wonder if he or she was
        really loved, or if any kind word was meant, if anything was
        really true, or if it all was just pretense.
Infidelity violates the secrecy which should be shared between
        just two. It rapes and robs that sacredness and leaves an
open view.
The shame, the pain, the agony that takes place in the soul: Yes,
infidelity has a sad story, one of which should never, ever,
need to be told. 

           Marie read again the poem that she’d written some ten years ago, a time when she was single yet dating someone whom she’d loved considerably. She remembered the circumstances that prompted the poem and felt a slight tinge of pain in her heart.
         She’d met Jay several years ago at a call center where she’d begun to work. He, to her, was the most attractive man she’d laid eyes on in a long time. He was much older than she was; this she could tell by the little gray here and there in both his head and mustache. Seeing Jay standing at six feet two in the suites he’d wear every day with the most exquisite silk neck ties, she thought, now this is something I could get used to.
         Marie knew that she would never approach him on her own. As outgoing as many thought she was, she wasn’t. She was quite shy actually and battling low self-esteem that stemmed from childhood.
         Knowing that she would never approach this distinguished, tasteful gentleman did in no way prohibit her from enjoying the sight of him when she went to work. Through close observation of Jay, Marie learned his off days: Wednesday and Saturday, and his arrival time: the same as hers—6 p.m.
Through discreet observation, she noticed that he talked a lot and that people laughed as they talked with him. Marie couldn’t help but think that he must’ve been a very likeable person, and that thought sparked her curiosity of him all the more.
           For three months Marie observed Jay. Being new to the job at only six months, she’d made a few friends—but not friends who were close enough to confide in about him.
          “This is Marie. How may I help you?” she spoke into the head set that had buzzed in her ear.
          Tel-Com was an inbound telemarketing agency that received calls for products advertised in infomercials all across the United States. The company had call centers set up in Omaha, Texas, and various other states. This site just happened to be in Virginia, where Marie had relocated eleven years before starting work there.
          “May I have your zip code please?” she asked the caller. Marie felt a sudden breeze brush against her.
          “Would you hold please?” she asked the caller.
          Placing the caller on hold, Marie looked up at the clock. It was 6:15 p.m. Following the sound of the thump next to her, she glimpsed Jay pulling out the seat next to her cubicle to start working. She nearly choked.
          “How ya doing?” he asked glancing down into her startled face.
          Marie waved to him nervously and managed a little smile.

                She loved her job. Taking calls from people all around the United States was fun and exciting to her. However, it did bother her sometimes when she’d have to read two, three, even as many as five or six other scripts advertising more products to the customer she had on the line. Many times customers would become frustrated or angered by the reading of these up sales. She could sympathize with them seeing how they only wanted what they’d called for and nothing more. One of the major criteria of the job was that she read every script appearing before her on the computer screen, verbatim.
          “Thank you for holding,” she said before continuing with the order. Trying to talk the customer into buying more products, Marie read what seemed like a thousand up sales. After thoroughly frustrating the customer with them, she completed the order. She’d become somewhat agitated by the customer’s frustration. The customer had nicely declined already additional products offered in three up sales. In the middle of the fourth script he’d said, “Ma’am, I thank you kindly for the offers, but as I just said, I only want the product I ordered.”
          Sensing the rising frustration of the customer, she’d placed a check in the no box on the screen. I sure hope there isn’t another up sale following this,she thought. I’m apt to lose this sale if there is.
          She’d’ braced herself, while pressing the enter key on the computer. Another script appeared. Sighing softly she’d proceeded to read the up sale. Before she’d finished the first line the customer interrupted her. “I said that I didn’t want anything else!” he’d said harshly. “Either finish my order or cancel it. You decide.”
          She’d pressed the enter key quickly knowing the next action decided what happened with the sale. She was relieved to see the ending script that finalized the order. Marie read the script as calmly as she could and thanked the customer for his order. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” the customer replied sarcastically before disconnecting.
          Marie had experienced countless instances where orders were lost because customers became infuriated by the continual reading of up sales. “Oh just forget it!” some have said hanging up on her. “Cancel my order,” others have demanded during the reading of a script, “and you’d better not charge my credit card!” Click. “What are you, stupid or something?” a customer once asked. “Didn’t you hear me ask you not to offer me another thing? Seeing that you’re too dumb to understand the meaning of the contraction don’t, you’re probably too dumb to charge my credit card correctly, so just cancel my order. What did you say your name is Ma’am,” he’d asked “or are you too dumb to remember?” Click.
          She loved not having to call customers to solicit their patronage, but she didn’t enjoy the harsh cruel things some of the customers would say once she’d received their calls. As hard as she tried not to let the cruelty of those customers weigh on her, sometimes she wasn’t as successful as others. With the slight agitation she felt over the rude treatment and the nervousness she felt from having Jay sitting next to her, she decided to take a few minutes to collect herself.
         The phones in the call center contained several option buttons. She chose the option marked “make busy.” This option re-routed her incoming calls to other representatives in the center. This option also showed monitoring quality assurance supervisors and podium supervisors that she was logged onto the phone but in a make busy status. Using the option for an unauthorized period of time would land her in hot water with these supervisors and she definitely didn’t want that to happen.
         She held her head in her hands for a few brief seconds and inhaled deeply.
Next to her, Jay had finished his call and peeked around the cubicle to ask her if she was all right.
         Lost in the nervousness of the moment, she’d heard him and didn’t hear him.
         “Marie,” he whispered again with genuine concern, “are you all right?”
Marie looked up surprised that he’d called her name. “Yes, I’m fine thank you,” she answered.
         “Good,” he said returning to the phones. “This is Jonathan. How may I help you?”
         Marie took her phone off of make busy and waited for an incoming call. She wondered how Jay knew her name. Looking at the name tent on top of her PC, she saw that she’d only written her last name, Whitfield.
         A red light flashed in the front of the room where she was working. A podium supervisor announced that the center was going into queue. This meant that an infomercial was being shown nationwide that was expected to send great volumes of calls into the center.
         “I wonder what the product is,” Jay said peeking around the cubicle.
         Marie answered with, “This is Marie. Thank you for calling for Oxi-Clean. May I have your ZIP Code please?”
         Marie finished with her last call. Glancing up at the clock, she was surprised to see that it was 9 p.m. She and the other representatives had taken calls back to back for an hour and a half.
         “I sure hope this Oxi-Clean cleans clothes like taking orders for it has cleaned me out.” Jay said.
         People around him started laughing as they agreed with him. Marie simply smiled and said nothing.
     Things had slowed, and the leads were hurriedly issuing breaks to those who’d missed theirs because they were in queue. Both Jay’s and Marie’s name tents were marked for break, and they both hurried off the floor hoping the red light didn’t come on before they could get away.
        Normally on her breaks, Marie would wander outside to catch a breath of fresh air. Every now and then she would go into the break room to get a snack. This time, she headed straight for the rest room. Once inside, she exhaled, went to the mirror, straightened her hair, and refreshed her lipstick. Marie didn’t consider herself a beauty queen nor did she consider herself to be an ugly duckling though many times in years past she’d felt like one. The first time she ever really became aware of her appearance was when she was about twelve years old. She could remember like it was yesterday.
         She’d grown up with seven cousins in North Carolina where she was born. She and her sisters played together a lot along with her cousins. Marie’s cousins’ mother, Beatrice, was Marie’s mother’s niece. Beatrice had seven daughters, and the older of the girls ranged in age similar to Marie and one of her older sisters. The cousins were raised quite differently than Marie. They were allowed a more advanced life style than that of Marie and her siblings.
         Marie and her sisters were over their cousins’ house one Sunday when some boys came over. They were all sitting around in the living room when Beatrice asked the boys, “Between my daughter Diane and Marie, who would you pick to court?” Of course back then, that’s what everyone called dating. Some called it taking company, but Marie always thought that sounded funny. And besides, courting sounded so much more romantic.
         All four boys pointed to Diane. For some unknown reason, everyone in the room laughed. When the group began to talk about something else, Marie used the change of subject as a way to leave the room without them realizing she was hurting inside. She stepped outside of the house onto the porch battling to hold back tears with every step. When she was safely outside, the tears began to fall. After she had gotten most of it out of her system, she wiped her eyes and fanned them with her hands to erase any evidence before making her way back into the house. She sure didn’t want any to come out looking for her and find her sobbing. As she neared the living room, she heard Beatrice say, “Yeah, Marie is the ugliest child her mother has.”
         Those words tore deeper into Marie’s heart than the rejection of the young boys. Those words confirmed for Marie what she’d assumed: she was ugly.
         They didn’t pick me because I’m ugly, she whispered to herself.
         Where the courage came from to enter the room and sit as though she’d heard nothing, Marie really wasn’t sure, yet she thanked God anyway. She thought that maybe he’d enabled her to hold the right composure by showing no signs of having been offended.
     After a few more minutes of small talk, everyone except Beatrice decided they’d go for a walk on the country road in front of her cousins’ home. Taking walks on country roads was a favorite pastime for the young folk. Though Marie pretended to be having fun while on the walk, inwardly she was deeply troubled by the offense she’d suffered.
          After that day, Marie started shying away from her siblings as well as the few class mates she’d palled around with at school. She thought that everyone saw her the same way as her cousin Beatrice did—ugly. She hated her appearance and often found herself staring at girls in school, especially the pretty ones who the other children flocked to.
         Many times she found herself wishing that she could look like some of her school mates. She’d often imagined herself being the prettiest girl in the world with her sisters, cousins, and young boys all flocking around her because of her beauty.
         While playing with her siblings and calling each other names as siblings sometimes do, she’d become more offended and angry when one of them would call her ugly. These times only fueled the inner burning fires of hatred toward herself and her appearance.
         The scars from that day long ago still affected her even after she’d grown up and had children of her own prompting her to stress to her son and daughter that they were not to call each other anything other than what she’d named them.
But siblings fight, and the first time she heard her son call his little sister Blackie, Marie lost it. “Hey! Nobody in this house is stupid, fat, ugly, stinky, a dummy, a Blackie, or anything else that I haven’t named them!” she’d yelled in an outburst the likes of which her children had never heard before.
         She’d taken a few minutes to calm down and actually apologized to them—not for what she’d said—but for the reaction her anger and hurt had prompted. “Look y’all,” she began as she looked at their fearful faces, “I’m sorry for yelling like that. Name calling isn’t a good thing to do. It hurts people inside,” she said placing her hand on her chest. “Many times we think that name calling is fun and harmless, but it’s not. We don’t know what another person may be feeling inside about themselves. Montrell, you may not like the size of your ears, and Kira may not be fond of her skin tone. When one of you attacks the area that isn’t too pleasing to the other, you can cause each other to be very sad inside. That sadness can make you stay away from each other because you don’t want to be made fun of and you don’t want your feelings hurt any more than they already are. Saying bad things about the way a person looks or the way a person walks or talks is not a good thing. God made people, and He made them to look different. When we pick on people because of their appearance, we insult God.”
         Montrell and Kira accepted Marie’s apology and even apologized to one another. It especially pleased Marie that Kira apologized even though she hadn’t called Montrell any names. She was proud of both of her children. By the time
Marie had finished talking; the children had lost their fearful faces, although those looks would be branded in her mind for the rest of her life.
          “Hey girl—how’s it going?”
          Marie’s thoughts and her trip down memory lane were rudely interrupted. She turned to see Tamara as she rushed into the bathroom stall like she was about to miss the last bus leaving the terminal.
          “Hi Tamara,” Marie answered. “I’m fine thanks—and you?”
Tamara started laughing. “Girl, if they hadn’t let me off the phone, I’da needed summa that Oxi-Clean like A-sap.
          Marie laughed. “You’re silly girl. I’ll see you later all right. And I’m glad you made it.”
          Marie took a quick glance in the mirror and exited the rest room. Looking at her watch, she saw she had fifteen minutes to kill before going back on the floor to be killed. She chuckled at the irony of that condition and headed outside for a breather.
          “Wait up Beautiful,” a voice said from behind her.
          She didn’t turn around because she didn’t know anyone in the center to address her in that way. She was sure that the voice couldn’t have been calling to her. Marie kept walking.
          “Oh, Miss Marie, it’s like that now, huh?”
          Marie swung around abruptly, losing her balance. Jay was beside her instantly to steady her with one hand on her arm and the other on her waist.
          “You know,” Jay said laughing, “I was told that I would one day knock a woman off her feet, but I always thought it would be with my looks. It turns out to be with my voice, dag. We can’t have it all now, can we?” he asked with a funny smirk on his face.
Marie could do nothing but laugh.
“Where you going?” he asked.
Clearing her throat, Marie answered, “My mother said I should never talk to strangers.”
“She’s a very wise woman, that mother of yours. Yes indeed, a very wise woman. Let me formally introduce myself young lady,” he said. Jay stuck out his hand. “Hi my name is . . .”
          “I’ll make it, I’m gonna make it. Oh it is all right now.” Tamara waltz by singing a familiar tune by Hezekiah Walker that Marie loved. Marie smiled as Tamara shouted, “Oh Glory!”
          “You know,” Jay said with an arched brow, “the bus that girl rode in on didn’t have an engine.”
          Marie laughed. “What an awful thing to say young man.”
          “But it’s the truth,” he said. “Watch this.”
Tamara was coming back. Jay stopped her by asking, “Hey Tammy, how’d you get here?” Thinking he meant how she’d gotten to work that evening rather than how she came to be, she replied, “On the bus stupid. Jay don’t play. You know I came on the bus.”
         Jay looked to Marie. “My case and point exactly,” he said.
         Marie doubled over with laughter. “You’re a Looney tune,” she said catching her breath. She glanced at her watch. “We’ve got one minute. Let’s go.”
         As she started to move, Jay caught her arm and extended his hand. “Hi, my name is Jonathan Emmanuel Hare, and it has been more than a pleasure making your acquaintance.”
         That moment was the start of a relationship that held many unsuspecting surprises for her. Marie and Jay began to spend much time together. They’d call one another daily, and of course they’d see one another at work. Sometimes they’d get together after work at 11 p.m.
         “Why do you call me Jay?” Jonathan had asked her one day. She explained that it signified a bond between them that was different than those of others who knew him. And Marie really welcomed her friendship with Jay. The relationship started developing at the time in her life when she was having problems with her sixteen-year-old daughter Kira and really needed someone to talk with. Being the loner that she was, she didn’t have a lot of friends.
         She’d been fighting with herself over when and how to tell the children about Jay. Since having met him, Marie was less of a homebody, and she knew that soon enough the children would start to catch on that something was different about her. Because they were family, it was important to her that she share with them before they figured it out on their own. The children weren’t small babies anymore, so she didn’t fear them being traumatized by her having a close male friend. Three months into the relationship, she finally told them.
         She told the children that she thought a lot of Jay and considered him quite special. She shared more personal things about him too; she told them about where and how they’d met and that he also was a school teacher.
         “I knew it was something,” her daughter Kira snapped. “You hardly get calls and lately this joker has been cutting into my phone time.”
         Marie just sighed at Kira’s response and looked to her son Montrell awaiting his response. He said nothing. He simply shrugged his shoulders. Marie interpreted the shrug to mean, whatever.
          “Lord, where are my children?” she asked God aloud. “Where are my real children, Lord? I’ve been telling you God that my children, Marie Whitfield’s children, are out there in this world some place because these individuals in this house can’t be mine. I’ve been telling you God that my children were switched at birth. Somehow you’re not hearing me God. God. Oh, G-O-D? You see what I’m saying?”
          Marie heard God laugh, and she too chuckled.
          The children finally did get to meet Jay. The one thing that Marie was thankful for was that the children still showed respect to their elders outside of the home. They liked Jay so much so that they started calling him Mr. Johnny instead of Mr. Jonathan.
          Marie and Jay spent a lot of time together. Her feelings for him grew and grew, and as time went by, they of course learned more and more about one another. Some of the things Marie learned about Jay were not things she’d embrace for herself, and some of the things Jay did didn’t delight her either. But she overlooked those unlikeable things, and the many inner warnings she’d receive from her God, she shrugged off. She’d have quick conversations still with her God, but she didn’t really give Him much of a chance to talk with her. Not like He used to anyway.
          Jay had come out of a seven-year relationship prior to meeting Marie. At least that’s what he told her. He’d explained that he and his previous girlfriend were still in contact with one another. He said that the ex-girlfriend was having problems securing a decent paying job to support her household expenses. He also explained that the ex and her family weren’t really close; therefore, she couldn’t get much help from them. Marie was told that the ex was also dealing with a rebellious teen-aged daughter and a grown son who completely dominated his mother when Jay wasn’t around.

          “Though Felicia and I are no longer an item Marie, I still care about what happens to her. You do understand, don’t you?” Jay asked after explaining his reason for being in contact with his ex.
          It was a whole year of being together before Marie found out that Jay lived three minutes up the street from her, a whole year before finding out that he and his supposed ex-girlfriend were sharing the same living space with the ex’s children and grandchild.
          Marie and Jay were standing in the call center’s parking lot on a day they’d both chosen extra hours to work.
          They were chatting away when Jay happened to turn just as a blue Honda Accord pulled into the entrance. He abruptly put some space between himself and Marie and walked away to the car that had come to a sudden stop some few yards away.
          “Who is that Jonathan?” the female snapped.
          Marie couldn’t hear Jay’s reply since he was whispering. She pretended that she was not trying to hear by flipping through the printed out pages of her schedule for the month, but Marie was more engrossed in what she was straining to hear than in what was written on those pages. They could’ve been blank as far as she was concerned.
          As Jay continued to whisper with the woman in the car,
Marie could feel anger rising within. Not once during her involvement with Jay had Marie had any cause to be jealous. Now though, jealousy rose from deep within and with a staggering strength. Within her heart, Marie knew something wasn’t right about the stranger’s visit.
          Impatiently, she waited for Jay to acknowledge her as he and the stranger continued to talk. The turmoil within Marie made the minutes seem like hours. Finally, she heard the car engine start. Marie looked up and watched the Honda speed away.
          Jay walked over to Marie looking as guilty as she imagined the cat that swallowed the canary had. The evidence of the cat’s wrongful doing was hanging out its mouth. The canary’s feathers told the whole story. “I see the cat,” she said to her self as she looked at Jay’s face.
          She didn’t even have to utter one word. The look on her face and the tears in her eyes asked all that she needed. His facial expression answered back.
          Marie mustered a half smile, shrugged her shoulders, and held her head down as she opened her car door. She gently lifted her head to look into the face of the man she’d come to love so much. The tears that fell on her printed schedule scattered the words in different directions on the paper, each drop choosing its own path, each drop never meeting up with the other.
          Marie looked down at the papers in her hand and through tear-blurred vision stared for a moment at the smeared lettering on the page. It was ruined. Both her heart and her mind were like the tear-stained paper—scattered, smeared, and ruined. Hearing Jay speak her name, she jumped into her car, started it, and drove away.
          All she really wanted to do was to go home, crawl in bed, and cry. As she drove, the pain in her heart triggered a series of mental images of Jay with the stranger Marie had assumed to be Felicia, the ex-girlfriend. Each image brought deeper hurt and pain. The image of Jay caressing the face of this stranger the same way he’d touched her, crept into Marie’s mind. She also saw an image of Jay kissing the stranger’s lips. I bet that he’s kissed Felicia with the same passion as when he kissed me all those times before, she thought. Marie saw more images of Jay embracing this stranger with the same tenderness he’d shared when he’d embraced her. I’m almost sure that his eyes have held the same flames of desire looking at this stranger as they held when he’d desired me, she continued to think.
In her imagination, Marie could even feel the warmth of Jay’s breath as he whispered the same words in the stranger’s ear as he’d whispered numerous times to her: “I need you baby. I want you.”
         Marie closed her eyes and shook her head to delete all of the tormenting images causing her heart to bleed. Finally, she opened them. Focusing on her surroundings, she found herself parked in front of the beach, a place that had always been tranquil—a place of serenity when thoughts or circumstances had become a bit overwhelming for her. She didn’t remember how she’d gotten there, but she was thankful to be there.
         The beachfront wasn’t as crowded as it was the past weeks when she and Jay had visited the beach. The last week of September had brought a slight chill which probably was keeping everyone away. The beach was almost completely empty, and today, Marie was grateful for the solitude it offered.
         Deciding to go for a walk, she pushed her purse under her seat and opened the car door. In the same instant, her pager went off. Somehow she knew it was Jay, but still she played with the thought that it also may have been one of the children trying to reach her. Why she ever second guessed herself, she never could quite figure out. She threw the pager to the floor of the car not caring if it was broken or if she ever saw Jay’s number again.
         Marie always kept a small back pack with her writing utensils on the back seat of her car. It had been quite some time since she’d even thought about those little tools that used to bring her so much joy, the tools used as she and her God reflected and shared. “Oh my!” she exclaimed. “God, oh Lord, where have you been?”
         She received no answer.
         “God, Oh, G-O-D?” she called. Still the only sound she heard was the waves rushing upon the shore.
         Realizing the rejection, feeling the weight of the rejection, Marie began to cry tears anew. She wasn’t crying because she felt that God was rejecting her, she was crying because she had rejected Him.
         Marie started her walk, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly. The millions of questions that accompany betrayal began sounding off in her mind.
         How could he do this to me? Doesn’t he know how much I love him? Was I not enough for him? Was I not loving enough, witty enough, smart enough, or even pretty enough? Was it my hair? My weight? Was I not shapely enough?
          She thought on the different disagreements they’d had—all because she’d not handled a situation or answered a matter the way he thought she should’ve. He always wanted her to do things his way. She tried explaining to him several times that some of God’s ways were rooted within, and she couldn’t nor wouldn’t detour from those ways.
When it came to God, Jay was a skeptic and had nothing positive to say about the Lord. She even remembered the time he’d cussed God out and how she’d begged the Lord to show Jay mercy and not knock him on his tail. She hated it when Jay would say mean ugly things about the Lord. She’d gotten strong inner warnings about his hatred of God, yet she ignored the warnings and kept the relationship moving.
         Then there was the drinking of beer every day. She knew she didn’t like that. She knew from past teachings, experiences, and observation that a person who had to have a drink everyday was an alcoholic, and most of the time, in denial about it. Then there was that temper that raged something awful. When it flared, so did the tongue, spitting out cuss words so hard that Satan probably shuttered.
         Marie was a hugger. When she met someone, she liked to greet them with a hug. Most Christians that she knew greeted one another this way. Hugging others didn’t sit very well with Jay. If Marie were to hug a man, anger and jealousy would overtake Jay and ugliness would spew from his lips. “Who was that?” Jay would bark. “What? Is he trying to holla at you or something? What? Are you liking him now? You need to start telling these men to stay out of your face!”
         Marie enjoyed clothing and would dress the earthen vessel as nicely and neatly as she knew how and could afford. Dressing nicely made her feel good about herself. She’d often receive compliments on the outfits she wore to work.
         She wasn’t an arrogant person, and with that being so, she’d simply thank people for the compliment, smile politely, and move on.
         One day, a male co-worker had just finished complimenting Marie on her outfit. Marie did the usual: thanked the man for the compliment, smiled, and moved on. Seeing Jay coming towards her, she kept smiling, happy to see him, and proceeded to greet him as always with a hug and kiss on the cheek.
“Get the hell off me!” he growled. He pushed her arms down and turned his face so that her lips wouldn’t touch him.
         “What is wrong with you?” Marie wailed a little louder than she intended.
         Questioning Jay always seemed to send him into a deeper rage. Marie noticed it a while back but didn’t comment on it for fear of igniting a disagreement.
         “Let me tell you something little girl,” Jay said between clinched teeth, “I don’t know who or what you think I am or what kind of game you think you’re playing, but I ain’t the one. I am too old for this crap, and I want you to know that you can’t run no game on me. I’ve been around a lot longer than you, and there ain’t nothing you can try to pull that I ain’t gonna know about.”
         “What are you talking about Jay?” Marie wailed again.
          Jay began to cuss something awful which made Marie horribly uncomfortable. He carried on about how the innocent gentleman had been tripping all over himself and drooling all over Marie. Threats to beat the man up came in regular intervals between the interrogations: Who was he? How long had she known him? How long had the relationship been going on? All, of course, accompanied by plentiful cussing.
         Marie looked at Jay like he’d gone crazy. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing nor believe the way he was acting. She’d not seen any of what Jay had described because her back was turned. She’d simply thanked the gentleman, smiled, and kept it moving.
         She honestly didn’t know the man’s name and couldn’t even remember if she’d ever seen him before—the call center was a big place. Hundreds were in and out of the place constantly.
         Marie wasn’t one to start a public scene, but the anger within her was raging. She really didn’t know what to do or say, so she simply started walking away.
         Jay snatched her by the arm and threatened her through clinched teeth, “Don’t you walk off from me little girl!”
         Marie was by far no stranger to physical abuse, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse because she’d seen it over and over and time and again with her own father and mother. Her first marriage had held that experience for her too.
         With tears welling up from anger and fear, Marie snatched away from Jay’s grip. She felt a slight pain in her arm, but she was less concerned with the pain than she was with getting away from Jay.
         Not bothering to wipe the tears from her face, Marie walked up to the podium where a supervisor sat, his head down in papers. Sensing her presence, he stopped reading and lifted his head to give her his full attention.
         “Are you all right?” he asked with authentic concern.
         “I’m really not feeling well,” Marie stammered, “and my shift starts in ten minutes.” She looked at her watch. “I really need to . . .”
“Don’t worry about it,” the supervisor said immediately. “I’ll take care of it.”
         He handed her a clip board containing an attendance log. “Simply fill in your information, and I’ll give you ET,” he said smiling warmly.
         “But I’ll get an occurrence won’t I?” she asked concerned about having an early time dismissal on her record.
         He looked at her again as warmly as before and said, “I’ll take care of it.”
         Thanking him, she signed the attendance log and walked away from the podium. She couldn’t get to the double door and outside fast enough. Thankful that Jay was nowhere around, she swung wide one of the doors making a dash for her car. The small stirring breeze of the evening felt good on her face. As a matter of fact, it was quite reviving. In passing, she heard one or two ask, “What’s wrong with her?” but she didn’t turn to look. Then she heard him. “She got caught.
That’s what’s wrong!”

Jay was standing further down the walk way leaning against the building with one foot propped up on the wall.
          “Come here little girl,” he commanded.
          Marie glared at him with eyes blazing with every color of a raging fire. She kept walking and when Jay made a move towards her, she swung around with such an intense look that he came to a sudden halt. For the first time, Marie caught sight of fear in his eyes. Capitalizing on what she saw, Marie made her way to her car and drove off.
          You know I should have ended things with Jay right then and there, she thought to herself, kicking at a small mound of sand on the ocean’s shore with her toes. How could someone so attractive, so likeable, so distinguished, be so mean and cruel?
          She continued her walk, wondering, asking, and searching herself for answers to why she hadn’t ended it, couldn’t end it with Jay. She’d asked herself those same questions several times before.
          She remembered a poem she’d written some months back after a heated argument with Jay about something she couldn’t even recall. The poem, entitled “Soul Tie,” read:

 Each time I attempt to say it’s over, forget it, we are through,
                I take a look and am reminded of how much I love you.
Though inwardly disappointed and saddened by what is not, I
                can’t run from nor relinquish what’s truly in my heart.
The secret place where I spend a quantity of time holds so many
                memories: the secret place, the mind.
Now, every reminder doesn’t send excitement through my veins;
                the mystical power, the dominating effects, these memories—
                 reminders just the same.
This is one of the odder acquaintances ever to be had, and I don’t
                say that in a way to make you feel sad.
Mystic, intriguing, painful and so much more; though I should, it’s
                evident that I just can’t close this door.

             Marie remembered some of the many letters she’d written
Jay sharing her feelings about the many things she didn’t like about his behavior. She never failed in her letter writing to express the effects those deeds and words had upon her. Marie confidently felt that if Jay knew the unhappiness those deeds brought her, he’d seek to make things right. But Jay never received any of the letters. Marie knew it would have been a waste to give them to him. She knew it
was a waste to even write them. When she had tried talking with him, he’d brushed her words aside like unwanted trash telling her that she was either stupid, childish, or both.
          Jay was eleven years older than Marie and looked at her as a child. He would always say things like, “You’re just a baby,” and “You’re not old enough to understand. When you get my age,” he’d say.
          Sometimes a child is exactly what Marie felt like with Jay. He’d tell her what to say, where to go, how long to stay, who to smile at and greet, how long she should and could talk with someone. She always made him aware of where she was, how long she’d be there, who she was with, and what things they talked about. Many times she’d not leave home to do something for herself for fear of missing his call and getting into a heated argument over why she wasn’t home when he called.

          Jay didn’t help her with any of her expenses or do anything for her financially. Marie would do things for him that she considered special like stopping to purchase him a rose on her way to work. She’d pick up breakfast for him on the mornings they’d chosen to work extra hours. If they’d be together, stopping somewhere to eat, she’d give him her portion of the bill while inwardly hurting because he never ever said, “No baby, I got this.”
I wasn’t a child Jay when I kissed you, she thought. You didn’t treat me like a child during the moments of intimacy, when I’d hold you and caress you. You didn’t look at me as a child when your lustful desires led you to me to be fulfilled.
          I wasn’t a child Jay,” Marie said aloud, “when I told you I loved you over and over again, showed you that I loved you over and over again in so many ways.
           Marie’s mind raced from one thought to another. She stepped in and out of her memories. Not every one of the memories was bad. Not every point of contact with Jay held pain. She’d experienced a few times a more gentler side of him. Marie remembered a night that he’d shared something heavy on his heart and mind that brought forth tears that fell—tears that Marie had gently kissed away, holding him, reassuring him that things would work out right.
          “I wasn’t a child then,” she whispered.
          Marie took a seat on one of the benches in front of the ocean. She watched the waves come in to greet her and exit quickly. Opening her back pack, she took out the pad and pen that she’d not held for a time. Emotionally broken, she stared at them intensely and remembering her God, she said to the Lord, “My God and my Lord forgive me.” She then began to write: Infidelity goes further than just an affair with someone else, further than you being cautious and of course protecting yourself . . . .
          After finishing and re-reading her poem, Marie dated and signed the piece of work. It always amazed her the way her thoughts read when they stared back at her  from a page. No one will probably ever see these, she thought, remembering other poems and writings she had written. At any rate, they have been both comfort and joy to me—always at the right time, she thought smiling.
          She inhaled the air from the breeze coming off the ocean and welcomed the tiny splashes of water that sprinkled her as the waves rushing to the shore increased in strength. She sat for a long time looking out at the vastness of the ocean wondering about its depth and longing one day to see every nook and cranny of the world lying beneath the surface.
          Coming back mentally to the event that troubled both her heart and mind, she consciously made the decision to end it with Jay this time.
          How will I do this? She asked herself. Should I write him a Dear John letter? “No,” she answered aloud.
          Should I maybe call him? she asked. Nah, she thought shaking her head. Picking up the paper and pen, again she started writing.



I met you in the oddest way, one particular day. I knew instantly from
                  that start, you’d hold a place in my heart.
I began to capture moments that became branded in the mind, to store
           the places and days for remembrance from time to time.
I stored the smiling face and even the tears that fell. I also stored the
                 special words that would cause my heart to swell.
I stored the moon-lit night, outside in the dark when you placed your
                 hand upon my chest and felt what was in my heart.
I also remember the morning: the time—ten minutes of two. I’d
                uttered my heart-felt emotions. I told you I loved you.
Oh, the gentle breeze that blew as we sat on the river’s shore
                while time raced ahead of us and we shared with each other the more.
I stored the night we took a seat in the life guard’s chair. Oh, how at peace
                we both were, free from every care.
I remember the day we spent some time over in the park and how you
                showed the ducks compassion, especially the wounded and dark.
These memories all stand correctly—every one of them is true—yet I
                can’t recollect a memory where you’ve said, “Marie, I love you.”
I’d really hoped you loved me in a special way and hoped for the day to
                come when you’d finally say.
Yet a year has passed us by, and I know now in my heart that love was a
                one-sided emotion, only on my part.
So now I’ll close this open door to the place where these memories are
                stored, realizing in my heart that added memories shall be no more.
The only time I’ll take a stroll down love’s memory lane is when I’m ready
to give this love and receive this love from someone who has the same.

Closing her pad and restoring her pens to her backpack, Marie lifted her worn body from the bench and headed to her car. Looking around, she noticed that she was the only one on the beach. In fact her car was the only car parked at the beach. She hadn’t even noticed until now that the few who were there earlier had gone.
          She did feel so much better than she had when she first arrived. She smiled thinking on the supernatural powers in the things God had both created and given man the ability to create. She thought on how rough the waves started to become and how at the same time the waves were a balm that soothed a painful heart.
          Marie reached her car. As she unlocked the door and reached to open it, she heard the Lord call to her.

          “Yes Lord,” she answered as her heart began to pound more rapidly.

          “Was it because I was ugly?” God asked.

          The tears flowed as Marie remembered the rejection and the pain from her youth. Wiping her face with the back of her hand, she kept her head down and answered the Lord’s question.

          “No God, you were not ugly. It was me who was ugly.”

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